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This Week at Angama #221

Returning to his homeland after a long absence, Andrew is struck by a sense of nostalgia and the excitement of new discoveries all at once
Above: Is there a greater thrill than staring into the eyes of a lion?

They say that a true voyage is return. This proves to be accurate for me in many ways. After being away for 15 years, I have come back to East Africa, the place I was born and the cradle of civilisation. The infinite bush is home to a vibrant ecosystem and it is the beautiful variety of wildlife that draws me and thousands of people to this breathtaking landscape.

F11, 1/160 ISO 100 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge
F4.5 1/500 ISO 64 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge

Few things compare to the sheer excitement that consumes me every time I descend the road towards the Mara Triangle. The Ololoolo Escarpment towers hundreds of metres over what feels like the Garden of Eden.

F 5.0, 1/500, ISO 1600 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge

The morning light slowly paints the landscape into existence and the nostalgic and fresh smell of rain fills the Triangle. The rains bring new life to the ecosystem and signal excitement that lies ahead.

Frog eggs laid on a puddle after the rain (no, it’s not chocolate!) F 7.1, 1/500, ISO 100
F 9.0, 1/500, ISO 500

The Mara Triangle is home to over 500 bird species of which about 50 are birds of prey. We are blessed with their presence as they provide a watchful eye over the landscape and play such a vital part in the ecosystem. 

F 9.0, 1/500, ISO 640
F 10.0, 1/500, ISO 100

The martial eagle is a glorious and powerful bird, with a wingspan measuring up to seven feet and weighing up to 14 pounds. They will spend hours on updrafts soaring and hunting. Once the eagle decides to attack, it does so swiftly and with enormous power, often instantly killing its prey. This eagle was spotted with the remains of a mongoose in its claws.

F 7.1, 1/500, ISO 250 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge
F 7.1, 1/1000, ISO 800 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge

We can tell the age of this bird is around six or seven years by the spots that are starting to appear on its chest. These will become fully formed extending up its breast as the bird matures.

F 7.1, 1/500, ISO 250 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge

When spending significant time with lions you begin to learn to read their behaviour and identify their different personalities. The feeling of excitement and fear is overwhelming when a big cat makes eye contact with you. You can sense its regality.

F 6.3, 1/400, ISO 100

We came across two young brothers under a fig tree near the border of Tanzania. We were graced with a few fleeting moments with these beasts as they raised their heads and curiously looked at us.

F 7.1, 1/200, ISO 100

We believe that the lion on the left is the Lamai male, who was suspected to have killed the Ol Donyo Paek male eight months ago. Lions regularly fight over dominance and when territories overlap — there can be epic wars fought over prime hunting locations and breeding rights.

F 7.1 1/400 ISO 100

We also spotted the Serena Pride feasting on a buffalo. Taking down one of these large and aggressive animals is no easy feat and requires collaboration and strength; the battles fierce and primal. The social structure of these animals is fascinating: in the immediate aftermath of a kill, there is often conflict within the pride as the hungry predators are eager to have their share. Typically, the dominant male will eat first, and only when he is satisfied will he allow any other males, females, and cubs to indulge, which we can see happening here.

F 7.1, 1/500, ISO 640
F 5.6, 1/500, 640 ISO | Photo: Sammy Njoroge

We were lucky enough to run into the Bila Shaka Boys this week which marks the two-year anniversary of them taking over a large section of the Mara Triangle (click here to read about it). They are incredibly active at the moment, especially after the rainfall, to re-mark their territory. As they roamed the savannah you could feel their entitlement as proud owners of this land. They have fought for the right to be the kings of this 'jungle'.

F 5.6, 1/320, ISO 100 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge
F 5.6, 1/320, ISO 100 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge

We are excited to see what else lies ahead for these boys.

F 7.1, 1/320, ISO 100 | Photo: Sammy Njoroge

This Week a Year Ago

f 2.8, 1/200, ISO 100, +0.3 | Photo: Adam Bannister

This time last year, we were admiring the Mara from the skies and as always, it didn't disappoint.

Filed under: This Week at Angama

Tagged with:

Maasai Mara , Mara Triangle , Photographic Safari , Wildlife Photography

About: Andrew Andrawes

Born and raised in Nairobi to Egyptian parents, Andrew spent 15 years in the United States before returning to Kenya and joining Angama. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and African Studies from the University of Virginia and an MFA in photography from San Jose State University —where he has also worked, along with various other studios and camera shops. Ask him about his leg tattoo.

Browse all articles by Andrew Andrawes Meet the angama team

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Comments (1):

Doug Crocker

30 April 2022

Andrew, Wow! I loved your musings and your photography (and of all who contributed with you). Wow! Doug In Ben Lomond.

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